By Pastor Paul Wood   St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City

Which side are you on?

When you were at school did have those pick-up games where teams were selected by a nominal captain each side. Were you the shrinking violet at the back hoping no one would notice you? Or were you the last one picked because of your rather suspect skills with bat or ball? Or were you the first one picked because you were the best? As you travelled through life, were you called upon to take sides? Family arguments, work disputes, political debates or even where you stood on religious issues?

Life is often a question of taking sides and it requires us to make difficult decisions. If we pick a side, do we upset or offend a friend, a work college, a family member? Oh, how tortuous life is. For those who profess a religious faith, Christian, Muslim, Judaism or the many others around the world, we are likely to create barriers by using wrong words and behavior. The social media of today has much to answer for in that it seems to call us to take sides and to then defend them. Whatever happened to the dialogue across the table, visible meetings to show compassion, tolerance and to respect other viewpoints?

Society today has become invaded by the so-called Political Correctness. Should we suppress freedom of speech? Do we march to the beat of suppressing our opinions because it might offend? Do we build walls and barriers to stop illegal mass immigration? Should we ask all those who live in this nation to live by the laws of the land, or is it acceptable to break laws to fulfill a political agenda? There are so many sides we are called to.

Surely there should be just one side for all of us irrespective of our faith, political belief or orientation. That is the side of humanity. The side of compassion and tolerance for all. The side of respect and acceptance of opposing views. If we are truly to live our lives to the very best then we should not stand behind the barriers of ignorance, anger, race, colour or creed. We need to stand side by side to make a difference to the community, the nation and the world. If we live as one, then we can dream and strive for peace across all faiths.

Blessings, Pastor Paul